With Christian Ponder held out of practice due to a rib injury, Matt Cassel will draw the start vs. the Steelers in London. Cassel will join Mike Glennon and quite possibly Matt Flynn, as QBs making their first starts of the season.
Inheriting an 0-3 team, Cassel will just have to prove he is a more viable option for the team going forward. Cassel was signed as insurance this past off-season for the inconsistent Ponder. Cassel comes off a season in which he largely struggled, passing for 1,796 yards, 6 TDs and 12 INTs in just 9 games last year with the Chiefs.
The Vikings have had a tough time replacing Percy Harvin, but for Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, and Cordarrelle Patterson, a change under center might just be the jump-start they need.
Alex Smith – One of the contentions for Dwayne Bowe to be regarded as an overrated Fantasy WR coming into this season was the presence of Alex Smith at the helm in Kansas City. During his time with the 49ers, Smith struggled with what Colin Kaepernick excelled at doing; making Michael Crabtree an elite WR. Many thought this would carry over to his involvement in the Chiefs aerial attack, alongside Bowe –I digress. Smith has been been highly effective, totaling 390 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions through his first two starts with his new club. Smith’s immediate schedule suggests no signs of slowing down, as he has three plus matchups across the next four weeks. Owned across just 24% of Yahoo! leagues, Smith will face a lowly Eagles defense, a banged up Giants secondary, and a mistake-prone Raiders defense who just lost Tyvon Branch to a significant leg injury.
The Bottom Heist: Alex Smith, much like the next wire heist below, is a plug-and-play backup QB who can provide relief if your starting QB has a tough matchup (i.e. the Seahawks defense). Until he proves otherwise, Smith is worth a bench stash in standard 12+ team leagues.
Philip Rivers – Just three years ago, Rivers was in the mix of elite NFL QBs. Tallying the 2nd best QB rating behind only Tom Brady, Rivers finished 5th in TD passes, but recorded less INT’s than all of the QBs in front of him, except for Brady. With the broken record that was Norv Turner, spinning off its needle, it’s safe to say that Rivers is benefiting from a changing of the guard in San Diego. Through two games, Rivers has completed 65.8 % of his passes, amassing 614 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a player owned in just 48% of ESPN leagues, a mark that significantly increased after today’s waiver claim period.
The Bottom Heist: As Rivers proved this past Sunday vs. the Eagles, he can still sling it, especially vs. a highly susceptible defense. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Rivers could end up being a legitimate starting QB1 if your starter were to go down, or perform ineffectively for a stretch of time.